Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mulch, Stumps and Weeds

I'm just not blogging, what's wrong with me?

I'm learning more about plants, weeds, and gardening. Every time I go out in the yard, there is something new. For example, the photo below shows an adorable stalk, about 18 inches tall, that came up in the front yard recently.

Maybe you recognized it immediately, but I had never seen anything like it. I love the tiny heart-shaped leaves. Correction: fruits. I tried to figure out what it was by googling "tiny heart-shaped leaves" but all that came up was something about hostas and it's not a hosta. Or it's not hosta. Whatever. Then I realized that they seemed to be more like seedpods than leaves, so I changed my search, and BINGO: shepherd's purse. The wikipedia article uses rude euphemisms to imply that it is a weed. It "grows in gardens, lots, fields, waste grounds and embankments". It doesn't "get along well with others". Well, I'm not pulling it up. It's adorable. Plus, apparently, it controls bleeding when taken internally. What better plant to have in case of emergency.

We may have a bronze birch borer in our birch tree; there is some die-back in the upper crown and most birches around here succumb to it if not thoroughly watered, and there was a drought last summer so chances are it is weakened. We had it chemically treated and also put this ring of mulch around it:

We're going to add something so it doesn't just look like a donut. Perhaps a rock border and some potted plants. We are also going to bury a soaker hose under the mulch at some point, so we can easily give it a really good overnight watering every week or two during the summer. AND (we will do anything to save our birch) at the suggestion of the arborist we are going to ask the city to plant a tree on the boulevard (the grass between sidewalk and street) to help shade the lawn so it doesn't dry out too quickly. Ours is the only house on the block without a tree on the boulevard, so there probably was one there at some point.

Note the cluster of tall green plants in the foreground on the left, directly under the trunk of the tree. I know, it's hard to see. But I'm keeping my eye on it; it's very weed-like, but it's sort of acting like it's going to get up to a certain height and then bust out with a flower. I'm pulling up very few weeds for that reason. I would hate to uproot an orchid or something, out of ignorance. So instead, I let my yard go wild, out of ignorance. The arborist pointed out a couple of plants and said "those can come out". He didn't specify that they are weeds, or that they are dangerous or poisonous; but I assume they are weeds, and thus, undesirable. Some people see a weed and think, "hard to kill". I think, "easy to grow".

CONTEST: How many animals are visible in the above photo? Be the first to tell me and win kudos and brownie points. Name the species, and you will also get bragging rights.

Below is an experiment of mine. There were some ferns growing on the side of the house, and I kind of like the look of them, and the deck needs some decoration but I don't want to spend money on plants only to have them die because they are the wrong choice or because I don't have a green thumb, so I transplanted three ferns to a pot.

It's a pilot study to see if I can keep an outdoor plant alive. I did my best to maintain similar conditions to what they had originally: in the shade, on the north side of the house, in the same dirt they were growing in before, with some other cute little weeds to keep them company, etc. There are rocks in the bottom for drainage. I even threw in a worm, for Christ's sake. I also left some ferns undisturbed in the ground where they were, as a control group. If my potted ferns don't make it and the undisturbed ones do, I'll know what killed them. I killed them. Out of ignorance.

Did you notice the stumps? Yes, we put wheels on stumps. Instant patio furniture. They can serve as plant stands, end tables, footrests, etc. The wheels keep them off the deck so they don't trap water and so that they are easier to move around. Here's the big one, which is great for sitting. It really did benefit from the added wheels:

It's kind of rustic and even slightly embarrassing, but I love it.

Also pictured above is my lavender plant, which is flourishing, and the hummingbird feeder which I put out about 4 days ago but haven't seen any hummingbirds yet. I'm going to keep changing out the water every few days anyway.

I hope you are having a nice Spring! It's been really overcast and rainy for what seems like weeks. Tomorrow is the first day in a long time they aren't forecasting rain.

I have a lot of reading to do and I'm not doing it, and I can't figure out why.



Julie said...

Isn't that a robin in your picture?

hazel said...

No, but thanks for the guess. At least, I don't see a robin.